Why Austrian Startups Came to Korea
An event was held to connect Austrian startups with the Korean startup ecosystem.
The “Austrian Startup Nite” event, which showcased Austrian startups looking for business opportunities in Korea, was held at Dreamplus Gangnam on the evening of the 19th. Five startups took the stage at the event, which was organized by Advantage Austria Seoul and the Global Incubator Network (GIN).
GIN, Austria’s flagship government program, provides a one-stop service connecting startups, investors and incubators with global connections. In 2016, it launched the Asia-focused Go Asia program, and in 2018, it launched the Go Seoul program, which supports Austrian startups looking to enter the Korean market.
GIN also incubates domestic startups to build bridges to the European market. In fact, several domestic startups have knocked on the door of the European market through the Go Austria program.
“We see opportunities in Korea!” Interview with 3 Austrian Startups
Please tell us about your service.
Tanja Zigart, CEO of CityRiddler: We run a service called CityRiddler. It’s a service that allows you to take an personalized city tour in an interactive way. It’s a way to explore the city by solving hidden riddles with a story behind them, allowing you to explore like never before based on your personal interests.
Sigismund Gaenger, CEO of SnoreFree: We offer an app for snoring and sleep apnea. It works through daily oral muscle training to relieve symptoms naturally. Statistics show that 80% of users see results after just a few weeks of training. Improving your sleep quality not only improves your quality of life, but also makes your day much more productive. I used to sleep more than 10 hours a night and needed about five cups of coffee to wake up, but now, thanks to the training, I wake up refreshed after only six to seven hours of sleep.
Mara Gajic, COO, Shion: We develop Active Acoustic Systems technology and devices that work like noise-canceling headsets. Our products can be paired with any audio system in the room and provide the best sound quality by canceling out internal and external noise. It’s like turning any room into an opera house.
You were selected for GIN’s GO SEOUL program and came to Korea. What made you decide to join the program?
Tanja Zigart: We are interested in the Korean market because it is rich in urban stories. We want to make sure that the products fit the market for tourists coming to Korea and Koreans who want to go somewhere else. We are looking for partners in Korea to discuss business together. We’re also looking for content creators to help us showcase Seoul’s hidden spots.
Sigismund Gaenger: I’m looking for investors. Preferably VCs who are interested in B2B companies and Austrian startups. I had an interesting conversation with a well-known Korean healthcare company today and got the impression that they are quite positive about our solution. We are looking forward to significant results.
Mara Gajic: We have been looking for new markets and thought this program was a good start. We know that South Korea is very receptive to smart devices and adapts quickly to technology. We hope to see good results in the Korean market.
Why Korea out of so many markets? What are your specific expectations?
Tanja Zigart: Korea, especially Seoul, is densely populated, which makes it easy to test our service. I think it’s a great place to get a first impression of how our services are being received in Asia. It’s also a great place to explore the usability of our services because it has a rich B2C consumer market and a very smartphone and app-oriented culture. We want to see if our existing services can be adapted and work in Korea, and if not, what changes we need to make, and what the key points are for entering the Korean market.
Sigismund Gaenger: The target market is not only Korea, but the whole world. There are 2 billion snorers in the world. However, Europe and Asia have different languages and cultures, so localization is important. We want to use this opportunity to network and find companies to work with.
Mara Gajic: Korea uses a lot of smart devices and IoT. In fact, many of the IoT devices we use in Europe are made in Korea. We want to try to do something meaningful in Korea, where IoT comes from. We want to do signature projects with Korean companies or artists to prove the power of sound. Because our system is not just about noise cancellation, but you can change the atmosphere of a room and the audience with sound. We’ve been very active in the healthcare sector, so we’re also finding more areas where we can work together.
“The exchange between the Korean and Austrian startup ecosystems is a big deal!” Interview with Henry Lembacher, Project Manager of GIN
GIN manages the GO SEOUL and GO AUSTRIA programs. Please introduce the programs.
“Go Austria” is a market exploration program and acceleration course designed to support international companies, especially Asian companies, interested in the Austrian market. It aims to actively support companies that want to discover opportunities in Austria.
The program is divided into a group program and an individual program, where the group program focuses on market exploration, partner identification, legal regulations and getting to know the local ecosystem, and individual mentoring with experts to help you establish yourself in the local market. The individual program is free to follow the applicant’s desired field.
There are also programs such as “Go Austria plus”, which is still in the pilot phase and provides support for setting up a legal entity in Austria. It covers 50% of the start-up costs up to a maximum of €20,000 (KRW 28 million).
Why Korean startups should go to Austria. What makes the Austrian market attractive.
Austria has the geographical advantage of being within a two-hour flight from all European countries. It is also a market where you can test your potential in the European market. European markets share a similar culture, albeit with small differences. If you are successful in Austria, you can easily expand to neighboring European countries.
With the “Go Aisa” and “Go Seoul” programs, we are introducing Austrian startups to the Korean market. What is it about the Korean market that attracts them?
The Korean market is very innovative, dynamic and fast. Austrian startups can learn a lot of business in a short period of time. On the other hand, we believe that Austrian startups have a lot to contribute to the development of the Korean startup ecosystem. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to have a practical exchange between Austrian startups and Korea.